Let's talk then...

Let me start off by saying I’m not a fan of Bell Let’s Talk Day. In my experience, I’ve found that others with mental illness don’t buy into it as well. I don’t know if you know this, but my mental health challenges do not only exist on January 28th and in collaboration with Bell Communications. Crazy, right?

Obviously, I’m being a bit of an ass, but that still doesn’t change the fact that mental illness is not a one day struggle. For people living and breathing this daily struggle, it is all-consuming, overwhelming, and even life-threatening. I understand that Let’s Talk Day comes from a place of good intentions and people aren’t trying to be jerks or give useless advice. But news flash, hugging a puppy or taking a walk in the sunshine isn’t going to cure my Major Depressive Disorder and General Anxiety Disorder.

I get it, YOU might not deal with mental illness, but you know someone who does. You just want to help. You love someone with a mental illness and you see what it does to them and it hurts your heart. It’s lovely that you want to help, want to offer advice, support, and activities to make it all better. But those things won’t make it all better. To varying degrees, they may help an individual struggling with mental health issues, but it’s not a fix-all. There is no fix-all. All the therapy, drugs, sunshine and puppies in the world, and I can still just wake up sad. Fun, right?

Unpopular opinion! I don’t need to be fixed. I’m not broken. My brain works differently than yours, and I need medication to help me. I don’t need to see the positive in everything or fix my mindset to fix my life or any of those cliché sayings floating around. Not everything is positive, and that’s okay. My mindset isn’t always perfect, and that’s okay. My glass isn’t always half full, and that’s okay. Fuck, sometimes it feels like my glass is on the floor in a million pieces, and that’s okay too.

Living with mental illness is HARD. Everyone’s struggle looks different. Mine has been a near lifelong journey of depression, anxiety, trauma, abuse, therapy, suicidal thoughts, and toxic relationships. None of these things are easy to deal with or talk about. Not on January 28th or on any other day. I struggle. It impacts my husband and kids, even though I try desperately to shelter them from it. It has impacted my education and career. It has impacted my business. It has infiltrated every possible nook and cranny of my life, and the best I can do is try to tackle pieces of it and hope that they won’t weigh on me so heavily, or work around it. It will never go away.

So I say to you on this 28th day of January, let’s talk. Today, and every other day, let’s talk about mental illness and the lack of support available for people who are struggling. Let’s talk about the cost of therapy and how it’s inaccessible for many. Let’s talk about programs that are available that don’t really help get to the root cause of issues. Let’s talk about this fucked up #selfcare movement that thinks bubble baths and alone time will cure anything that ails you. Let’s talk about the side effects of anti-depressants. Let’s talk about the long-term, intergenerational effects of a society that is more depressed now than ever. Let’s talk about the lack of public health supports (read: funded) available for people who desperately need them. Let’s talk about how on every other day besides January 28th, people struggling with mental illness are still facing stigma and shame. Let’s talk about the fear of reaching out for help. Let’s talk about the people who do reach out for help and are ignored, or worse, mocked. Let’s talk about the people we’ve lost due to mental illness because of all of the above.

My door is always open if you are struggling, but know that I am also struggling. I am here for you, today, and any other day that you need it. I hope that you can be there for me if I need it. Not with advice or a list of things to “make me better” but there with a listening ear, open heart, and a willingness to share love and kindness.

Lindsay aka Sassy Mother

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